James Kotecki (00:01):
Join the Consumer Technology Association and gain access to exclusive artificial intelligence resources and insights. Our AI member resources are designed to give you the knowledge and tools necessary to make informed decisions that drive your business forward. No matter your size or specialty, we have something for everyone. Visit cta.tech/ai to learn more.
This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki. Welcome to season seven. CES 2024 is January 9th through 12th in Las Vegas and it's time to build the hype. So let's get smart about the world's most influential tech event. And a special welcome to those who are watching the video version of the show. That's new for season seven. You can see our smiling faces.
For our season premiere we are diving into what else, AI, artificial intelligence, a topic so pervasive, I'm pretty sure it's going to come up in almost every conversation I have this season. So if you're the kind of person who goes to CES, you may have already been thinking about AI for years, but now it seems like everybody's talking about AI, especially new tools for creating art and text that feels human.
So if this sci-fi concept is here now in our present, what does it mean for our future? To find out, let's follow the money and talk to two people who are shaping how investors engage with AI.
Sara Mehle is an Index Research Strategist for Nasdaq Investment Intelligence, and Brian Comiskey directs the Consumer Technology Association's thematic index partnership with Nasdaq. The Consumer Technology Association is of course the producer of CES.
Brian, Sara, welcome to you both.
Brian Comiskey (01:54):
Thank you so much, James.
Sara Mehle (01:54):
Thanks for having us.
James Kotecki (01:55):
So Sara, let's start with you. I want to explain and have an understanding of why both of you are here today. So why does Nasdaq have a partnership with the Consumer Technology Association?
Sara Mehle (02:05):
Nasdaq and CTA have partnered for over 13 years now in creating thematic tech indexes, so providing a way to track these thematic tech areas. Nasdaq really brings the index construction expertise, while CTA brings that technology and research expertise. Really partnering together lets us bring the best of both worlds.
We do have two AI related indexes I just wanted to call out. We do have the Nasdaq CTA Artificial Intelligence Index designed to track performance of companies engaged in AI, and then we have the Nasdaq CTA Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Index, which is designed to track the performance of companies engaged in AI and robotics segment.
So those are tracked by products internationally and in the US. In the US we have the First Trust Nasdaq Artificial Intelligence and Robotics ETF symbol ROBT, like robot. So there is a way. We've created ways for investors to have access to these very niche thematic tech areas.
James Kotecki (03:17):
So if I want to invest in, I don't know, robots or something, this is a way for me to do that with CTA's expertise and Nasdaq investments abilities?
Sara Mehle (03:26):
Yeah. So we actually do have two AI related indexes that I did want to mention. Think of them as baskets of securities that are related to AI and AI and robotics. So it's a way for us to track this space, but also provide people and investors with a way to invest in these different themes.
So the two indexes that we have available, the Nasdaq CTA Artificial Intelligence Index that is tracked by the WisdomTree Artificial Intelligence UCITS ETF. And so that's designed to track performance of companies engaged in AI, including technology, industrial, medical and other economic sectors. And then we also have the Nasdaq CTA Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Index designed to track the performance of companies engaged in AI with a focus there in that robotics segment of technology, industrial, medical, and other economic sectors.
So this particular index is tracked by the First Trust Nasdaq Artificial Intelligence and Robotics ETF symbol ROBT like robot in the United States, the Cathay Nasdaq CTA Artificial Intelligence and Robotics ETF in Taiwan, and the Ping a Nasdaq AI and Robotics ETF in Hong Kong. A lot of options.
James Kotecki (04:35):
I want to dive more into. A lot. There's a lot of options. And it's so exciting to be able to dive into this. So Brian, before we go forward with more about what's in these indices, I want to understand why it makes sense from CTA's perspective, the Consumer Technology Association's perspective to have this partnership with Nasdaq.
Brian Comiskey (04:54):
Yeah, of course. And I think the most important word here is partnership. What Sara was describing before, where Nasdaq coming in with that index construction and that financial expertise on their side, CTA is coming in with an expertise around innovation and themes. And I think it's very important where CES is the meeting place for so many different technology trends and companies to gather and show what's in the future. This is just another avenue and venue to showcase where innovation is going to the audience, in this case being investors.
So really, when we look at our perspective as a nonprofit, we're coming in with a different lens and focus than a lot of the other traditional financial firms that say, these are the companies that are really pushing forward cybersecurity or cloud computing, and of course the companies that are pushing forward artificial intelligence and robotics. So I think the strength really lies in that partnership and these two perspectives coming together.
James Kotecki (05:52):
So a question to both of you. Would love to just go one level deeper on understanding what's inside these baskets, what's inside these indices?
Brian Comiskey (06:00):
Yeah, of course, I'm happy to jump in first and go in through the perspective of the Nasdaq CTA Artificial Intelligence Index or NQINTEL. It's really designed to capture the whole artificial intelligence ecosystem. So we actually categorize companies for both in this index as well as the other that Sara will describe around who are enablers, who are engagers, and enhancers. And what does that mean?
Which companies enable the artificial intelligence space? So think chip makers, as well as other hardware and component manufacturers. Engagers are the companies that are, their core business is artificial intelligence enhancement. So companies even like Workday would qualify in there where it's our HR analytics software. And then finally you have the enhancers, which are companies that are driving innovation forward in artificial intelligence, but it's really more of a value added service in some cases where their core business, for example, like Tesla for example, might do EVs, but they're doing so much on AI in the background that it's pushing forward this space there. So really trying to capture the whole ecosystem from chip all the way down to the everyday consumer level engagement with AI.
Sara Mehle (07:08):
Yeah. And then jumping into the Nasdaq CTA Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Index, this just takes it and focuses really on that artificial and robotics segment of the artificial intelligence kind of landscape. And again, we are focusing in on those enablers, engagers, and enhancers in this particular index as well. But again, with that special focus of robotics, looking in at technology, industrial, medical. In this particular index, you'll see names, we have John Deere in there, we have NVIDIA, we have Microsoft, some names that you would know, but then other names that might not be as familiar to you. But these are rules based indexes. So they are driven by rules. There's no sort of human emotion that is layered in here. So these are considered passive strategies that again, are tracked by those ETFs.
James Kotecki (08:01):
Well, I actually kind of have great sympathy for both of you trying to define and put some specific shape to what AI means, what this industry actually looks like at these different levels. I mean, we used to talk about every company is a media company because of the internet. And it seems like as we go forward into the future, every company either is or will soon be an AI company or consider them as such. But let's talk about the present. What do we actually mean when we say words like AI and generative AI? I think we've established that both of you are experts in this area, but I think that we need to establish some definitions before we go forward in the conversation about what AI really means.
Brian Comiskey (08:38):
Yeah, certainly. I'm happy to jump in first on this front, and I guess let's go all the way to the top. What do we mean by AI? I think it pretty much is just what it sounds like in a lot of ways, where it's the practice of getting a machine to simulate or mimic humic intelligence to a degree, which is a pretty lofty goal when you think about where we are right now. But it's really trying to get, how can we have machines parse through so much data that we're producing on a daily basis.
So for example, on a given day, we're producing about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. If you've never heard of a quintillion, that's 2.5 followed by 18 zeros. So that's pretty much impossible for humans to be able to process this. So how can we get machines through algorithms to be able to parse through that data for us?
Sara Mehle (09:28):
Yeah. And I'll jump in there too. So artificial intelligence is just machines that are able to perceive, synthesize, like Brian said, kind of parse through data and as opposed to intelligence from a human it's a very simplified explanation for something that just seems so complex.
James Kotecki (09:49):
Yeah. Sara, you and I were talking in our pre-interview for this conversation, the notion of generative AI, which is taking so many of the headlines these days and AI writ large, because I think with people who may be just becoming aware of the concept of AI and those who listen to this podcast may not be among that group, but I think everybody certainly understands that. Now, my family members, my friends, my neighbors, everybody's talking about AI. A lot of people became more aware of it with the dawn of things like ChatGPT and the ability to generate text that feels kind of human through generative AI. But as you and I discussed, that is not all that AI means. So can you help just pick apart the difference between generative AI and AI overall in your reckoning?
Sara Mehle (10:33):
Yeah. So ChatGPT and generative AI, that's one form of artificial intelligence. I think ChatGPT has been thrown around almost as a synonym for artificial intelligence right now, which I think as time goes on, once people are more familiar and there's more variations and more applications of this kind of generative AI technology, I think it will become, the public will just become more aware and maybe ChatGPT won't be used as that word.
But I really do believe that that word has taken off because ChatGPT has offered something that I think is relatable to every human. You really don't necessarily need an education in science or data to understand that you can type into something and get a response back. And I think that's why ChatGPT itself has just caught on so fast.
But I think there are other applications of AI like you mentioned, but particularly I think right now just this focus on generative AI and large learning models.
James Kotecki (11:44):
Brian, do you see that as well with AI being the theme of the moment because of this generative AI almost kind of establishing a beachhead for people almost in people's minds and consciousnesses of the notion of AI writ large? Do you see those themes as you look across the companies that we're looking at for these indices?
Brian Comiskey (12:02):
Yeah, certainly. And I think really, I really, like ChatGPT as Sara's almost describing it as almost becoming the verb like, "Oh, I'll just google the information." And for the AI, it's like, "I'm just going to ChatGPT this," or in some ways. But of course there's more examples of that where you have Bing based search and other sort of ChatGPT models.
But the novelty of it is that it's tangible, that consumers can really engage with it on a daily basis. So when we think about what generative AI, what it is at its core is it means you're creating novel or new content using artificial intelligence, and that's where the power is, where Sara was describing, "Well, you don't need an education necessarily to use ChatGPT." That's its power right there. Because when you think about it, we're so used to seeing the applications on the daily basis of I'm going to go and I'm just going to have ChatGPT write a definition of what AI is for me ahead of this podcast. I definitely was using ChatGPT to generate answers because it makes it more succinct, but it can also bridge that education gap in engineering with things like low-code or no-code solutions.
Say you're a nonprofit or a startup, you can't afford to bring in that full technical expertise on a full-time basis. You can have some of your workers at least engage with a generative AI concept to create some of that code for you.
That similar sort of application pool comes into play with things like drug discovery as well, where we can create novel protein creation to speed up drug development discovery. That's why it's the theme of the moment probably is because generative AI with a novel creation component to it just makes AI feel like there's boundless potential, but doesn't mean we're not using AI on a daily basis already.
James Kotecki (13:49):
Well, that's right, and I want to talk about that more with you Sara for a moment, because we talk about these really compelling use cases for ChatGPT, but then we use words like potential. It's not hard to see how that could come to pass. But a lot of the applications of AI, the most value added applications of AI are at the moment, not necessarily in the generative space. I mean, we mentioned companies like John Deere, which is potentially using generative AI, but is obviously using AI in other ways as well. So Sara, can you maybe just speak for our audience just about some of the other ways that AI is being applied on a daily basis beyond generative?
Sara Mehle (14:23):
Sure. So I think that AI, even though we think it's this new thing, as Brian mentioned, it's something that we're already living with day to day. I actually had to Google ways that we're using AI already because there are, I think that it's just become ingrained in our everyday lives, and maybe you don't assume that that's artificial intelligence, but things like your social media feeds, those algorithms, Google Lens where you can take a picture of something and it will automatically search Google for you, which is very helpful.
Google Maps, I trust that probably more than I should. If Google Maps tells you to go one way, you definitely, I've learned the hard way that if you don't follow what it tells you, like you're going to be stuck in traffic. Things like Netflix, facial recognition or facial ID. I traveled internationally recently and my trip from Japan to Taiwan, my ticket was my face and that kind of threw me off over there. I didn't have any sort of boarding pass. My boarding pass was my face. Spotify for those who love music and even fall detection, I was looking at too on an Apple Watch. This is all AI driven.
But I really do think that the facial recognition is probably something that any iPhone user probably uses on a day-to-day basis or that has significantly changed your life in terms of not really needing to type in passwords.
Brian, what other ways am I missing here?
Brian Comiskey (15:51):
Well, I like that you brought up Netflix that comes to mind because if you look at it right now, 75% to 80% of the recommendations you're getting from Netflix alone is coming from an AI algorithm that has only improved as years go. Spotify follows a similar route. And how does it get better is because you keep using it every day, the machine learning algorithm gets smarter and smarter.
But if you want to go even more topical, we see it every day with de-aging technology in Hollywood and cinema. So like Indiana Jones 5 is releasing the new one. From my understanding the debut at Cannes, the first 20 minutes or so is just a de-aged Harrison Ford, which is impossible unless you have an AI algorithm that can make Harrison Ford look like at 81-years-old, make it look like he did in 1984. So it's incredible with that, what's already doing in Disney Plus has been doing it for years with all their Star Wars properties.
So you see it every day and you just think, "Oh, this is a marvel of technology," but you don't understand that that marvel's created by artificial intelligence.
James Kotecki (16:52):
And Brian, maybe bringing it back to something we alluded to earlier in this conversation. It is interesting to me the number of use cases for AI, the wide scope of possibilities for this technology. From your perspective, do we risk some kind of a definitional change or shift or just AI just having this completely loose meaning of almost all technology because it's not hard to see how this AI technology can become embedded in everything. People have called it the new electricity. People have called it the new fire. But with that may come kind of different shifts in perception of what AI is and means. So this is potentially a vague question, but are you seeing any of those perception shifts among CTA members, among companies that are in the indices that we're talking about here, just as far as how they think about what AI is or means?
Brian Comiskey (17:42):
Yeah, well, I think the first thing I always think about with technology and definitions, and I think we talk about this with sometimes the internet, the best definition is a retroactive definition that you looking back in the past and see how it's defined. But with AI, we actually like to use, between Nasdaq and ourselves we like to use the phrase digital utility. Really alongside cybersecurity and cloud computing these are technologies that like water and electricity to operate a business are becoming requirements if you want to operate any sort of enterprise because you need that AI's ability to simulate human productivity to parse through that data.
The other sort of way to think about it is it's a horizontal technology more than anything, where many technology areas are very clear verticals where you can go up the supply chain from like an EV, go from the battery, the materials to the battery to the engine to the endpoint car. AI is a bit different where when you look at the CES show floor, we saw that with John Deere and applications like the See & Spray technology that can get down to the inch of herbicide application, but it's also in the citizen smartwatch that was there, or NVIDIA's whole enterprise suite of Omniverse applications using AI. I just used, brought up examples of digital health essentially, and wearables, AgriFood tech and enterprise AI all in the same scope. You can't just put it into one bucket.
James Kotecki (19:07):
And that's interesting, you talk about those, that there's almost this trifecta of cloud computing, cybersecurity and AI. And I was just trying to quickly make an analogy. So it's you've got an office, that's cloud computing. You need this stuff to be happening somewhere. You've got locks on the doors, that's cybersecurity. And then you've got the people inside the office who are actually doing the work. That's the productivity, that's the AI. Does that analogy kind of track with you?
Brian Comiskey (19:31):
I really wish we had this for our panel. Because we did a panel on this at CES, Nasdaq and CTA. And man, if I had that in the opening, I think that would've landed.
James Kotecki (19:43):
Well, that's a free before you.
Brian Comiskey (19:45):
Thank you.
James Kotecki (19:46):
Sara, how do you think investors are changing their perspective on AI? How are they seeing this? I don't know if we're able or want in this conversation to talk about specific investment trends. And by the time people listen to this podcast, obviously that's always changing, but just writ large, how are investors thinking about and approaching this sector or these sectors?
Sara Mehle (20:08):
Yeah. So I think that, as Brian mentioned, definitely digital utility. And I'm almost going to speak from almost like a public perception point of view as well, not necessarily from an investor perspective, but I think that the more that time goes on, the more headlines that we're seeing about use cases for AI, I really think that it's becoming more of something that we're really going to embrace versus that we're scared of. And that there's this big kind of fear campaign for.
I was listening to another podcast earlier today, and I mean the applications of AI, I mean, just run the gamut. So I was listening to one actually about the Ella stroller, which won the CES Innovation Award this year. So AI stroller that protects, can do self-driving, but also is aware of things around it. Apparently pushing strollers up and down hills are really hard. I've never done it, but that's just a complaint that a lot of parents had and it's dangerous.
And then I also was listening to another podcast on using AI to identify rip currents and saving lives in Australia. And they were saying that one of the biggest challenges with that particular technology is the social aspect of it, because this is a great lifesaving technology, but do people really want drones over their heads taking pictures? Do they really want these cameras to be there? Maybe it's a lot of privacy concerns, but also this huge utility.
So I think really for me personally, it's becoming, I'm seeing it more as augmenting, acting as a tool rather than this big scary thing that's going to replace humans. And I really do think that it's going to touch everything. Like you said, there's no internet companies anymore. Everything's kind of an internet company. I think AI has an application for every single company out there.
James Kotecki (22:13):
Yeah. And Sara, I'm glad you brought up the fear aspect. It's something that you just simply have to address if you're going to have a conversation like this. This is a consumer technology association podcast. Obviously we're going to have a more positive take on AI, and there are so many amazing applications. And if you go to CES, we were at CES 2023, you see a lot of that optimism in person incarnate on the show floor. And it's hard not to be optimistic when you see all those and hear about all those incredible use cases.
But Brian, obviously this is something people are thinking about. We're talking about, people talk about regulation, people talk about societal change. From a member perspective, from a CTA perspective, is that something that you think about or need to address very much? Do we feel like these concerns will ultimately be washed away by the amount of incredible benefits that AI brings? Is this kind of like any new technology has some naysayers and some people who are fearful? Or is AI as some people think something fundamentally different for good or bad that we need to think about in a different way?
Brian Comiskey (23:12):
Well, I think with any sort of innovation or technological change, it's always about, or there's always a sense of responsibility when you're thinking about all the endpoint applications of whether it be AI, cloud, cybersecurity, even digital health.
So from CTA's side, we've always been the business of creating standards with our robust technology and standards department creating the standards that will be the backbone to a lot of the development and innovation in the particular space. And that's member driven. That's our members coming together and trying to create the technological standards and solutions that will help guide the developing principles. But also this speaks to policy where we really want to see an industry led solution to make sure that we're developing this responsibly.
I do think when you bring up things like fear, and even actually when you think about AI, the word, whenever it comes up with the wrong answer is hallucination. These are very human words being applied to what is ostensibly a machine at the end of the day. So when we think about, a computer can never be held accountable, which is something IBM was saying in the 1970s, similar to AI where it comes down to how do we develop things, how do we develop AI more responsibly? And that's something that industry will work together to consider.
And you think about what are some ways to do that. I think some of it is improving upon who's working on developing. Right now only 27% of AI teams are women and 25% are ethnic or racial minorities. So that's one area where you can immediately improve, is to get more balance and more view of who's developing the technology.
But I think as a membership driven organization, it's getting consensus around, well, what are our principles, what are our responsibilities, but also what leads to innovation so that we continue to ensure that those amazing applications you see at CES fulfills that potential because every eight technology has a promise, and it's our goal to meet that promise.
Sara Mehle (25:13):
Earlier I was reading about just the printing press and how that books were banned and that everyone thought that this was going to, or specific people thought that no one could learn as well from a book that's been printed. And look, we can't really imagine our lives now without a book and how really didn't change being able to communicate, but it really did change the world.
So I think looking at AI as something, like you said, electricity, something just bigger than I think what we are mostly used to comprehending. And I think that that fear and that kind of knee-jerk reaction from the public is natural. I think it's change. And I think just again, using it responsibly and coming together to just use it and apply it responsibly.
James Kotecki (26:10):
It may be apocryphal, but I once heard the story of one of these ancient Greek philosophers, like decrying the fact that kids these days are reading and writing and they're not memorizing the great classics like we used to growing up, and so they're going to become basically idiots and the society's over.
So yeah, certainly we've been having these conversations for a long time. And that's what it means to be human, right, yeah, to have technologies and to have machines that are advancing and changing, but to always be having these conversations that kind of touch on everything from the practical to the philosophical.
But let's bring it back as we end the conversation here to CES 2024. We've been talking about all the great things that we've seen at recent CES, but I want to talk about what you think we might see at CES 2024 in terms of how AI might show up and might even surprise us.
So this is a little bit of a crystal ball situation. We're recording this conversation six months or six months plus before CES 2024 takes place, but we're already starting to get excited for it.
So Brian, we'll start with you. What's a prediction that you have for AI at CES 2024?
Brian Comiskey (27:18):
Well, I certainly think it's going to be the most prevalent technology theme on the floor. And by that I mean I think every company, and there's an incentive to do it to, will showcase some sort of connection to how artificial intelligence is improving their field.
But what, in terms of the innovations we're going to see, I think we've seen digital health innovate and advance so much over the years. I always do example, I go right to my wrist and see, yes, the start was just smart watches in a lot of ways and showcasing the advancement in digital health there to this past year we had a seizure detecting pair of glasses. That's an AI algorithm underneath it. So how is AI going to help better predict medical conditions and emergencies? That's probably an area where it'll improve.
I think we're going to see more around AI and how it's going to improve AgriFood tech, whether that's not just the element of supporting labor in that field and working as co-bots in a lot of ways, but also things like how do you use an AI algorithm to maintain food freshness? That was something that was starting to bubble up at CES 2023, and I think we'll see more of that.
And then just really underpinning it, just a lot of the solutions around robotics and enterprise. We'll see showcased just a lot more of that simulation. So I'm just, I'm excited because I'm also know I'm going to be surprised. So what I said here might be right. It's a crystal ball, right? It's speaking in generalities that probably will come true, but I think digital health is the one I'm very excited for because you can just see a clear through line of where data is being improved and how AI is improving it.
James Kotecki (29:01):
Sara, what do you think? CES 2024, what's your prediction?
Sara Mehle (29:04):
I can't wait to go. In terms of predictions I'm just looking forward to seeing how people are just going to be able to be innovative with this technology and the applications of it. Like I mentioned the podcast earlier, detecting rip currents, saving lives that way that was ... The drowning deaths in Australia had spiked, and so somebody came out with this as a solution. The Ella baby stroller. That kind of was something that I hadn't thought of.
And I think there's just going to be more both consumer applications and enterprise applications of AI that I think are going to become easier to understand and hopefully easier to implement in our everyday lives. So I'm really excited to see kind of that, the efficiency, creativity and just that opportunity that all creates, just innovation. Can't wait.
James Kotecki (29:59):
Yeah, I can't wait either. And it occurs to me as I asked you that question, it's like, what's going to have AI at CES 2024? It's almost like I asked you, do you think any of these booths are going to have electricity at CES 2024? Are people going to be plugging things into the wall and having electric? It's almost to that point, and we're so excited to see all the different ways that people are going to be using it.
Sara Mehle of Nasdaq, Brian Comiskey of the Consumer Technology Association, thank you so much for being our inaugural guests on season seven of CES Tech Talk. We really appreciated it.
Brian Comiskey (30:29):
Thank you so much, James.
Sara Mehle (30:29):
Yeah, it was great.
Brian Comiskey (30:31):
It was fun.
James Kotecki (30:33):
Well, thank you both so much. And thank you for watching and/or listening. That is our show for now, but there is always more tech to talk about. Please subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss a moment. You can get even more CES and prepare for Vegas at ces.tech. That's C-E-S dot T-E-C-H. Our show is produced by Nicole Vidovich and Mason Manuel, recorded by Andrew Lynn and edited by Third Spoon. I'm James Kotecki, talking tech on CES Tech Talk.
Hey there, podcast listener and/or viewer. Are you curious about how or if artificial intelligence is changing our lives for the better? Want to be involved? The Consumer Technology Association's AI Working Group is dedicated to fostering the positive of AI technologies and doing so through comprehensive market research, networking, and influential advocacy for policies that promote innovation. With the rapid evolution of AI, it's critical that we ensure our workforces and government are poised to take advantage of the many benefits AI can bring. So stay informed by joining the CTA AI Working Group today. Visit cta.tech/ai to learn more.